Motorcycles and reckless drivers

Atty. Jerome G. Neri

ALMOST every motorcycle rider I see is a traffic law violator. It seems like that they feel that they are exempted from traffic laws. You are about to turn right, signaling at the correct time and as you turn, you see a number of motorcycles accelerate and try to overtake you on the side you are turning in. The worst part is, they get mad if you do not let them. If they crash into to you and even if it’s completely their fault, they expect you to pay for their injuries and more.

It is very difficult to find a motorcycle rider driving defensively and diligently. Reckless is the right word for a big majority of them. The number of deaths from motorcycle accidents are rising that it might even be a good idea for President Duterte to give all these drug pushers motorcycles so they will crash themselves to death.

Right now, I can confidently say that it is almost impossible to find a motorcycle rider who is driving on our public roads with the diligence of a good father of a family, which is the legal standard for ordinary diligence.

What is worse is that there is a growing number of these irresponsible drivers offering rides to the public for a fee, to take them from point A to point B. They are locally known as habal-habal. So, we end up with an inherently dangerous form of public transportation being operated by most probably reckless drivers. It is a recipe for death.

The law does not allow the use of motorcycles as a form of public transportation. It only provides up to the use of tricycles, another mode of public transportation that needs to be phased out. The habal-habal industry has been thriving for many years now. Completely unregulated, they transport a person from one place to another for a fee, sometimes exorbitant. There are also those who carry up to four passengers at one time! They are moving violations for hire. They are not difficult to find as they group up in certain areas in the city where there is a demand for their services. Yet I have not heard of any government crackdown on this illegal industry. I’m sure the government has the resources to do something about it and yet they take a blind eye. Is this illegal industry being protected by the government or politicians?

I read this news article that our Mayor, Tommy Osmeña, has come up with this “bright idea.” The City will build two terminals for these habal-habal and even develop an app so that booking their services can now be internet-based just like Uber and Grab Taxi.

Mr. Mayor, you want the Cebuano public to patronize an inherently dangerous form of public transportation. We already have outdated Jeepneys plying our streets. Now, the Mayor wants to allow an illegal one-passenger capacity form of public transport in our City. It is just ridiculous.

I remember the the idealistic and problem solver Tommy Osmeña of the 90s. When we had a transportation shortage, he was able to secure a donation of buses from the City of Kaohsiung. These buses, although old, were used to transport the public. That was a huge step forward. His new “bright idea” is a giant leap backwards and also illegal and unwise.

These drivers can have other alternative income-generating uses for their motorcycles. They can be delivery errand guys that can transport small packages and documents from one place to another. An app can be developed for this kind of service and I’m sure there will be a good demand in a City like Cebu. Government should look at other services apart from transporting passengers for these motorcycle riders. The safety of human life should always be a priority.

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